Whether your personal injury case is “routine” or complex, there are common pitfalls you need to be aware of. In our experience as Vancouver, Washington personal injury lawyers, these are the mistakes that people who are injured in a car accident or motorcycle accident tend to make, along with some tips to help you avoid them:
Exaggerating Your Injuries or Symptoms
Many plaintiffs believe they must exaggerate their symptoms in order to be taken seriously by the insurance company. This is not a wise course of action. Remember that the insurance company is investigating you and your claims of injury; often, this investigation includes surveillance. If you are found to be exaggerating your claim, your credibility is lost and, likely, so is your case. Be honest about the nature and extent of your injuries and your symptoms, including your pain.
Understating Your Injuries or Symptoms
Just as exaggerating your condition can harm your case, so can understating your symptoms. This is not the time to play the martyr or to suffer in silence. Tell your doctor (and your personal injury lawyer) the true extent of your injuries, your symptoms, and the impact of the accident on your daily life.
Not Seeking Medical Treatment
If you have been injured in a car accident or motorcycle accident, you need to seek medical treatment immediately. Some people believe that they can contend with the pain or injury at home, with over-the-counter pain medication and an ice pack. Even if that is true, let the doctor prescribe this course of treatment. Seeking medical treatment is important because it documents your injury. Your claim will be significantly weaker without this objective documentation.
Not Following Doctor’s Orders
Though it is not always easy, do your best to follow your doctors’ orders. Failure to do so will lead the insurance company to believe that you are not as injured as you say you are or that you are not trying to get better, in an effort to get more money out of your case. Thus, if you go to the emergency room after the accident, and the emergency room doctor tells you to follow up with your regular physician, do it. If your doctor refers you to a specialist, make the appointment and keep it. Take your medications, as prescribed. Limit your activities as instructed by your doctor.
Many people who are injured in a car accident or motorcycle accident fail to document their claim because they think the police report will be enough to prove that the accident occurred and they were injured. This is a mistake. The better course of action is to keep a personal record of everything related to your injuries. This will help you in the long run in proving your case for damages. Here are some easy steps you can take to document your case:
- Keep all your medical bills.
- Keep a calendar with all your medical appointments.
- If there were witnesses to the accident/incident, try to obtain their contact information.
- Take photos of the scene of the accident/incident, if possible; any property damage; and your injuries.
- Keep a journal of how you feel. Record how the accident/incident has affected your daily life. If you have to miss time off from work due to your personal injuries make sure to write this down in your journal. Keep all letters and/or forms that excuse you from work due to your personal injuries.
Keep all of this information in one secure location so that you can easily locate it when needed.
Personal injury cases take time. Do your best to be patient and not rush the process. The best scenario is to wait until you have received all medical treatment and have been released by your physician before attempting to settle your claim or lawsuit. Waiting until after a medical release will allow you to know the true amount of your total damages and know what your claim is worth. Patience is the key; otherwise you risk lowballing your own claim. If you can wait for a settlement, then wait.
Failing to Consult with an Attorney
Often, the person injured in a car accident or motorcycle accident will assume that he can handle his personal injury claim on his own. In some instances this is true. If, however, your claim is complex (e.g., involving multiple drivers) or you sustained serious injuries, then you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. The initial filing of an insurance claim is simple and easy; dealing with the insurance adjuster, however, may not be. Adjusters are experienced negotiators who will use many tricks of the trade to either lowball your claim or simply refuse to settle the matter. If your claim moves into the court system (“litigation”), then there are strict deadlines you must meet and a complicated, formal fact-finding procedure (“discovery”) that you must comply with. A personal injury attorney who is familiar with the litigation process can make all the difference to the success of your case.
Simply put, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you avoid making all the mistakes discussed here. If you were injured in car accident or motorcycle accident, we are available to talk about your situation and explain your legal rights and options. Call or email us today for a free initial consultation.